Key IT Trends for 2003

Von Richard Fichera
Die Talsohle scheint durchschritten, doch immer noch regiert die Vorsicht. Investitionen stehen nach wie vor unter dem Druck des ROI. Trotzdem sollten Unternehmen ihre Strategie nicht aus den Augen verlieren, mahnt Richard Fichera, Analyst der Giga Group.

Huge rewards await companies that can position themselves correctly for 2003. Although risk remains, forward-thinking companies will begin now to try to gain advantage over competitors by making investments and situating themselves to be ready when the economy improves - and it will improve. However, the prevailing underlying mood is still one of caution. This caution is in turn reflected in the IT spending climate. Numerous surveys agree that IT spending for 2003 is a good news/bad news sort of situation - it's recovered somewhat from the worst of the late 2001 lows, but is still way short of the heady days of 1997 to 2000. Giga's recent update for 2003 of the Key IT Trends Salon finds us still in an environment where the fundamental business drivers are profitability and cost containment, and given the history of recovery forecasts and the real possibility of a recovery that bounces off the bottom one more time, we would also counsel caution in developing plans that lack the ability to be altered quickly. Pressure on increasing client retention and profit per customer will remain a constant companion in most industries.

The Outlook

Giga continues to see a conservative investment climate for 2003. We see no significant signs of a major renewal in sight. Some surveys indicate there may be a slight uptick in 2003, but these are mostly a reflection of a backing off from the panic-driven low forecasts of late 2001. Vendors should be aware of some pent-up short-term demand for routine upgrades during late 2002 and early 2003. This temporary surge will not be part of a sustainable recovery. Recent studies show prospects for modest 4 percent to 5 percent increases in IT budgets over last year, well short of the earlier years when budget increases of 8 percent to 9 percent were common in already high-spending sectors.

There will remain a strong emphasis on capital efficiency with demand for a strong return on investment (ROIROI) in months, not years. For instance, more than half of Fortune 1000 purchasing dollars are spent on services, approximately $1.8 billion per year, with about 29.6 percent related to project- or time-based activities: Workforce procurement and management systems can return 10 percent to 15 percent savings and many can be implemented with little upfront investment. Alles zu ROI auf

Human resources (HR) has become a buyer's market for all levels of corporate skills, inside and outside IT - employees are less likely to leave and salaries are under pressure. However, HR must be diligent in tracking the recovery and adapt to changes as the economy picks up. SecuritySecurity remains a high priority for all levels of the corporation and is a board-level issue. IT investments for next year will be focused on improving security, including physical security of facilities, network security and systems security. Disaster recovery and business continuity initiatives will be funded in many organizations. The "business" of IT will gain increasing focus in most companies. In-house efforts will almost always compete with outside providers, including system integrators, outsourcers and application service providers, and IT management must become increasingly adept at managing a portfolio of these approaches simultaneously, since no one solution will fit all requirements. Alles zu Security auf

One of the more alarming trends is the collapse of strategic planning, a victim of the widespread uncertainty. We strongly encourage management not to lose sight of the fact that all downturns end, and when the next wave of expansion is under way, companies that have not kept their strategic vision intact and aligned with their tactical plans will be at a disadvantage. Meanwhile, dramatic paradigm shifts continue to take a back seat to better selection and deployment of leading-edge technologies, and wholesale replacement to incremental changes that show near-term value. The overall challenge for CIOs is to start acting as partners in the business, balancing costs vs. strategic advantage, rather than focusing narrowly on a single issue - cost containment, often via staff reductions and other expense control measures rather than technology as a catalyst. A very few forward-looking companies continue to invest in technology in anticipation of future business requirements, but they are in the minority.

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